Academic: UK Government would ‘fear emulation’ if Scotland became independent

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson told the event an independent Scotland could be a ‘bridge’ between the EU and the rest of the UK.

09 October 2022

The UK Government will fear other parts of the country breaking away if Scotland ever becomes independent, an academic has said.

Speaking at a fringe event on the border arrangements of an independent Scotland during the SNP conference in Aberdeen, Professor Anand Menon – director of the think tank UK in a Changing Europe – told party members there would be a fear that should an independent Scotland be successful in the European Union, that could act as a “role model” for Northern Ireland in a future border poll.

In the same meeting, Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said Scotland’s success as a member of the EU would be a boost for the rest of the UK, allowing the country to be a “bridge” to explain “the needs, interests, concerns and expectations of the rest of the United Kingdom”.

Mr Robertson told the event: “I actually think it’s going to be really important for the government of the rest of the United Kingdom that Scotland succeeds in that wider European context and Scotland can be a conduit, can be a bridge, in explaining the needs, interests, concerns and expectations of the rest of the United Kingdom as a member state of the European Union,” he said.

“We are going to be really important for the rest of the United Kingdom, and not just in trading terms.”

Prof Menon said he had to “take issue slightly” with the Constitution Secretary.

“We can dream of a world in which an independent Scotland’s success is wanted as much in London as it is in Edinburgh, he said.

“That’s not the world of politics I’m in.

“If you think back to Brexit, one of the reasons why people thought the EU would play hardball was this notion of a fear of emulation.

“There would be a fear of emulation in London about (Scottish independence) because over the water you have Northern Ireland.

“I think Northern Ireland is a ways off a border poll as yet, but if Scotland leaves and is successful within the European Union, it would represent quite a powerful role model, and that will make people in London nervous.”

Meanwhile, another academic told the event there would have to be checks on the border between Scotland and England in the event of  an independent Scotland joining the European Union.

The issue of the land border proved one of the most controversial in the lead-up to the first independence referendum in 2014.

Professor Nicola McEwan told the event: “(The border) is the biggest challenge in a sense from an independence perspective because it would become, under EU membership, an EU external border.”

As such, the the government of an independent country would have certain “responsibilities and obligations” for the goods coming into the country.

“There is no getting away from the fact that there would have to be border checks,” she added.

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